The Indian women's cricket team is set to take the field in one of their biggest tours this year against England, starting from June 16 where they will play one Test, three ODIS, and three T20Is. This tour of England will also mark the return of head coach Ramesh Powar, who replaced WV Raman in May.
The move has garnered plenty of attention in recent times and is being scrutinised with the context of the past stint Raman who had coached the Indian team in the T20 World Cup in 2018. The Mumbaikar was supposed to coach the team to a tour of Sri Lanka, a bilateral series in West Indies followed by the ICC Women's T20 World Cup in the same country in 2018. However, the relationship between Powar and India's star batswoman Mithali Raj turned bitter when the Powar had dropped Mithali from the squad in the semifinal of the World Cup. The differences grew sharper and Powar was replaced by Raman. Now, with Powar back in helm, questions are being repeatedly asked about the relationship that had turned sour initially and whether it will affect India's performance in the upcoming games.
Why should we move over the spat?
Three years have passed since the incident and both Mithali and Powar seems to have moved on from their past state of affairs. At least if go by their words, both have reiterated of moving on from the episode.
"We can't be living in the past.' 'I've played for so many years, I don't have an ego or I don't give attention to my personal likes and dislikes. I've never done that. And 21 years has been a long time for me to sort of, you know, go through many challenges. When it comes to playing for India, it's like serving your country, so personal issues, I don't really give any weight (to those)," Mithali Raj told the Press Trust of India.
The 38-year-old is a torchbearer of women's cricket for more than two decades and doesn't like to carry baggage. "You need to think about the bigger picture. That's how I am. There are so many things that have happened in the past, but I don't carry that baggage into my present or in the future," she added.
In quarantine, the team has had multiple zoom calls discussing plans for the upcoming tour. Mithali said the World Cup is the primary goal at the moment and everyone is aligned with that. "He is the coach, and he has his set of plans, it's important that both of us are aligned on the same page to take the team forward. Because even his goal is the same: that the team does well in the World Cup. It's everybody's goal in the team," she said.
"We can't be bitter and carry the bitterness. I've never been a confrontational person, nor am I someone who carries the past into the present. Otherwise, I wouldn't have survived for so long in a sport, which clearly needs re-inventions and revisions all the time,' she asserted.
"It's important that we are on the same page and take the team along, because we are at a very crucial phase of our preparation for the World Cup. Yeah, we have meetings, discussions regularly so clearly we have moved on" she added.
Powar, on the other hand, had said, "I would like to stop the speculation. We interacted well, otherwise, I would not have come back to women's cricket. Everyone grows up after three years, larger goals are in the picture. This is a great opportunity for me, Mithali and the whole group to take women's cricket to another level where BCCI is supporting us. I don't think we will go back to those small things. We are professional enough. Everyone should move on. You all know me, I have been at NCA, I have been with Rahul Dravid, his effect will play in this series."
Keeping every bit of controversy aside we can all just hope for a steller season by the Indian cricket team as they start the season with one-off Test from June 16 in Bristol. A day-night Test against Australia in September has also been announced. With red ball cricket not being part of the domestic set-up since 2018 and limited preparation time before the game, India face a big challenge. The series of tours will also be the precursor for the ICC Women's ODI World Cup 2022 and with a star-studded team we have a real shot at bringing the cup home.